Meet Isuneh Brady, UConn Women’s Basketball Player

UConn women’s basketball rookie Isuneh “Ice” Brady has wanted to wear red, white and blue for Team USA since she was 13 years old.

Six days after turning 18 this month, Brady made his first training for the USA team for the FIBA ​​U18 Americas Championship 2022 in Argentina. Two weeks later, on June 19 in Buenos Aires, she won her first gold medal, helping the United States win their 10th consecutive gold medal at the FIBA ​​U18 Championships.

Brady, a 6-foot-3 post player from San Diego, turns the page on another chapter in her basketball career on Tuesday, joining her new UConn teammates on campus for the first time. His college career begins this week as the Huskies continue their summer practice session.

During her first experience with Team USA and her final years in high school, Brady said she learned that she was strong enough to face life’s challenges and cope better with each other. side. Such was the case during his attempt to make the American roster and handling the pressure associated with his commitment to UConn as a sophomore in high school.

As Brady begins summer training with UConn after playing internationally this month, she knows she’s ready for any challenge that comes her way.

“I’ve been preparing since I was in second grade,” Brady told Hearst Connecticut Media by phone from Argentina on Monday. “It’s like, ‘OK, now it’s finally going to happen.’ I’m just excited to get out there.

A FIRST GOLD MEDAL

Brady was 13 when she first tried out for Team USA U17. As one of the youngest players to try out and still relatively new to basketball – she started at the age of 7 at a local YMCA – she wasn’t too disappointed that she didn’t make the cut. She tried again a few years later for the U16 team, but still failed to make the roster.

This summer, she told herself she would do whatever she could to earn a spot on the roster, even if it meant missing the first few weeks of UConn’s summer training session. Finally, on her third try, she earned her first nomination to Team USA and started training camp ahead of the FIBA ​​Championships.

Team USA head coach Joni Taylor (Texas A&M) warned his players as they began training camp in Colorado that they would have to work extremely hard, but were not afraid because they were able to do difficult things.

“During practice, because I was going to do whatever it took to make the team, I just remember running around the pitch during scrums and being so tired, like thinking ‘I can’t go anymore,’ and then still be able to get through it,” Brady said.

“You give so much of yourself, so much of your energy, of your body, of your mind. It took so many and it was just for testing and then whatever you thought you gave; you have to give double during training camp and then whatever you thought you gave (at camp) you have to give triple to win a gold… It’s gonna hurt, it’s not gonna be perfect all the time, but I can definitely say that I’ve learned that about myself, that I’m capable of doing hard things.

The United States swept their three preliminary games in Argentina, beating teams by an average of 60 points. In Brady’s United States debut against Columbia on June 13, she led all players with 17 points with an 87.5 field goal percentage along with three rebounds, two assists and two steals in 20 minutes.

Team USA continued through the quarter-finals and semi-finals, defeating Mexico (77-41) and Brazil (84-40).

Ahead of Sunday night’s championship game against Canada, Taylor’s words began to flow. Not only was a gold medal on the line, but so was Team USA’s nine-game winning streak in FIBA ​​U18 Championship games.

“It definitely hit us after the game against Mexico,” Brady said. “Then it was like, ‘OK, these teams are going to be better and tougher. They’re not going to be as easy as the first few games. And then there’s this pressure that you don’t want to think about how the States USA wins all the time because it’s like, ‘Oh, USA wins all the time.’ It’s us. We can’t lose. Nobody wants to be the first American team to lose, in what, 10 years.

With the US leading the entire championship on Sunday, the Canadians surged late in the game to approach four points heading into the fourth quarter. Team USA was quick to rebuild their double-digit lead before winning the game with a five-point lead for the gold medal. Brady’s game-high 15 rebounds tied the all-time American record set by Nneka Ogwumike in 2008.

UCLA signee Kiki Rice — a former UConn recruiting target — was named tournament MVP. Over Team USA’s six games, Brady averaged 13 points, 7.5 rebounds, 1.7 assists, and led Team USA with a 65.5 field goal percentage.

Team USA’s win extended their 10-game FIBA ​​U18 Championship winning streak since 2000.

Brady called his dad once the team got back to his hotel around midnight in Argentina to tell him the good news. She couldn’t talk for long, however, as her teammates started partying early, blasting music and dancing in their hotel rooms until 3:30 a.m. on Monday morning.

“(Coach DeLisha Milton-Jones) was doing her little speech after we won the gold after the celebration and she was like, ‘You’re part of the family now,'” Brady said of Milton. -Jones, two-time Olympic gold medalist, assistant coach for Team USA and current coach of Old Dominion. “She kept saying it was just excellence. USA is excellence and it’s part of our basketball resume.

“It was just like, ‘Wow, that’s really cool.’ … It’s just that the more accolades you get, the more you realize you’re part of this culture, this family, this excellence. It just makes you feel like your hard work is paying off.”

BECOMING A HUSKY

Brady was taking a red-eye flight Monday night from Argentina to Hartford. While Team USA on Monday gave players the opportunity to explore Buenos Aires, including visiting the Pink House, the offices of the Argentine government, Brady will have no respite between the gold medal and the start of training at UConn.

When she arrives in Storrs, it will be the first time the 2022-23 UConn women’s basketball team has been together on campus since the rest of the team began summer practices on June 1. Brady said his UConn coaches and a few teammates reached out. to congratulate her on the USA win and team staff also helped her start her summer school virtually.

McDonald’s All-American, a San Diego native, has dreamed of being a Husky since watching Breanna Stewart and Morgan Tuck lead UConn to four consecutive national championship titles.

“Just seeing the winning culture and mentality that they had, it was just something I fell in love with and wanted to be a part of,” Brady said.

She hadn’t planned on committing to the Huskies program early, but after speaking with coach Geno Auriemma on the phone, in which he told her she had “a little Husky” in her, she decided. decided to fly to Connecticut and see the campus for herself. It didn’t take her long to know that this was where she wanted to be.

“Before I went to Connecticut my sophomore year, I didn’t even have an offer,” she said. “Obviously it was like my dream school so I was really excited to talk to him (Auriemma) but I don’t even think he knew how much, I mean he probably had an idea but, I don’t think he knew how much I wanted to go to his school. …

“It was a no-brainer for me, and it felt right. Still to this day, I feel like that’s where I’ll have the most success and obviously prepare for the next level, not just for basketball but just for life.

Committing to the sport’s most iconic program early put a lot of pressure on Brady, both from the outside world and from his own expectations. The constant pressure shattered her confidence, forcing her to think too much on the pitch.

She learned to fight pressure and boost her mental health by controlling her breathing and focusing on positive self-talk during games.

“I was playing a game and I just remember feeling like all eyes were on me and there was a lot of pressure to have an empty point count and an empty rebound count and this and that,” she said. “It got quite stressful, and it was really a lot of pressure.

“But I’ve managed to find a balance in figuring out what works for me, and that doesn’t always seem to get the most points. I was able to overcome that and give it my all, no matter what the stats looked like at the end of the day.

It was because of this personal growth that she decided to major in psychology at UConn.

“I want to learn more about mental health and things like that, especially for African Americans and for athletes, young athletes,” she said. “After entering my second year, I felt a lot of pressure, and it put a lot of stress on my mind and I didn’t really understand that to play basketball, your mind also has to be right.”

For this summer, however; she just focuses on learning as much as she can during off-season training.

“I just want to be a sponge, absorb as much as I can. Learn as much as possible,” she said. “Take it all, the highs and the lows, the good and the bad and give it all to me.”

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